Yearly Archive 2019

ByJayanthi

What is Cryptojacking?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It just feels like we hear something new about  cryptocurrencies everyday, but let us delve into the concept of ‘Cryptojacking’ in this post.  Having blogged about cryptocurrencies and blockchain before, here are a few facts about them:

  1. ‘Bitcoin’ and ‘Blockchain’ are two entirely different concepts
  2. ‘Bitcoin’ is a cryptocurrency while ‘blockchain’ is the underlying technology powering cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin 
  3. Blockchain is a distributed, immutable and shared ledger
  4. Transactions on a blockchain cannot be edited
  5.  ‘Bitcoin’ is one of the more popular cryptocurrencies based on the ‘Blockchain’ concept. 

Bitcoin’s energy consumption:

Since bitcoin is based on the blockchain concept, where there is no central authority directing the stakeholders(or miners in Blockchain/Bitcoin lingo), the only way a new block(FYI – a ‘block’ is where transactions are recorded) can be created and agreed upon is by means by of mathematics. This is called ‘mining’, which uses humongous amount of energy. Bitcoin mining can be done by simple software and specialized hardware.

Bitcoin’s current electricity consumption is 46.74 TWh!!(Terawatt hours) (Source: https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption) To put this into perspective, according to one study in April 2018, Bitcoin’s energy consumption numbers were equal to the energy consumption of an entire country like Switzerland! (Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/shermanlee/2018/04/19/bitcoins-energy-consumption-can-power-an-entire-country-but-eos-is-trying-to-fix-that/#116123d81bc8)

Having understood that bitcoin mining is heavily energy intensive, we can understand that cyber criminals will look for alternate means to mine cryptocurrencies.

Cryptojacking:

This alternate and malicious way to mine cryptocurrencies is by means of a concept known as ‘Cryptojacking’. ‘Cryptojacking’ unsuspectingly makes use of an innocent person’s computer, tablet, phone or any other connected device to mine cryptocurrencies. The innocent individual is lured by means of suspicious email links or online ads which then runs the mining code in the background and drains your energy for wrong purposes.

The unsuspecting user continues to use his computer/connected without knowing that his connected device is being used for malicious purposes.

What do criminals gain from this?

They get bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency with minimal effort and electricity usage on their side. They can then use these cryptocurrencies to buy things that they wish.

How do we detect that cryptomining code is running on your computer:

The only way that we can detect if the cryptomining code is running on our computer is when the computer gets slow or gets heated up. 

How do we prevent cryptojacking?

We can prevent ‘cryptojacking’ by installing ad-blocking and anti-cryptomining extensions. Users should also turn off Javascript in the browser and be wary of phishing emails. It is also necessary to keep up with the latest in the security realm and install all patches as and when they are released. 

Future of cryptojacking:

The current damage caused by ‘Cryptojacking’ may only be slowing down of the device but this malicious attack may evolve further with time and pose a risk to personal and financial information. According to this report from eset.com, cryptojacking may not be slowing in 2019. So, it is necessary to take note of this attack and be knowledgeable about it and guard against it.

 

ByJayanthi

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The title of this post either makes you smile or feel puzzled – either way, welcome to the musings of one of the sweetest times of my life… reading children’s books! ๐Ÿ™‚ Once I had moved away from worrying about whether variables were static, private, public or private and whether methods were overloaded or overridden – there was a special time when we used to visit our local library to find children’s books and read them with great happiness! ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, join me as I go to the kingdom of pure and gentle thoughts! ๐Ÿ™‚

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!

As you may have guessed by now, ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ is the name of a children’s book to be read to very young children. It used to be a classic for children as young as 2 and it was quite a rage then. My then, 2 year old son used to adore it and I did too, as I read it with him(now he is 17 and he might find it blasphemous that I still remember it!! :))

Children’s books have to be written in a special way to keep the little readers glued to it. The book should not have too much of content and have pretty and enticing  illustrations. The content should be engaging such that little readers don’t lose their little attention span(this of course, goes for all writings!) and move onto the next activity….

This book does that excellently by teaching the alphabets of the English language in a special and fun way.  It goes like this: “A told B and B told C, I will beat you to the top of the coconut tree…” (anybody, care to finish it? :))There are videos on Youtube illustrating this beautiful book too.

More Children’s books:

The other children’s books that I(or rather my kids!! :)) fondly remember reading are:

  1. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  2. “Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?” by Eric Carle
  3. “A House for Hermit crab” by Eric Carle
  4. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr.Seuss
  5. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr.Seuss
  6. “Jamberry” by Bruce Degen
  7. “If you give a mouse a cookie” by Laura Numeroff
  8. “Goodnight moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
  9. “Is your Mama a Llama” by Deborah Guarino

The Eric Carle series and the Dr. Seuss series of books for children were always winners. I couldn’t even imagine that such beautiful lines could be created by the move of a pen!! “Chicka Chicka Boom”, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, “A House for Hermit Crab” and “If you give a mouse a cookie” are my all time favorite books. Even though it has been a very,very long time that I read them last – their sweetness and innocence is etched in my memory forever!

As my kids have grown and gravitated away from children’s books into teen series like Roald Dahl and more(for the daughter) and technical books like Java and Information security(for the son), I miss the innocence of the young age…I have also moved away from the blissful, innocent days into the serious horizons of Information security and beyond… 

Were/Are your young readers reading these titles too? 

ByMani Prithiviraj

Tesla

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Teslaโ€™s Role in Evolution of Electric Cars

Modern day private and public transportation are primarily based on non-renewable energy resources.  These traditional forms of transportation contribute towards global warming since the one of the products of combustion using non-renewable fuels (e.g. Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene, Natural Gas) is Carbon-di-Oxide. Carbon-di-Oxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere and leads to global warming. In addition, the exhaust from vehicles also contains pollutants like unburnt hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and soot.

Electric cars work on the principal of converting the chemical energy stored in batteries to mechanical energy using an electric motor. The mechanical energy is then transferred to the wheels of the car to propel it. The main systems in an electric car are the battery, inverter, motor, transmission, cooling system for the battery, cabin comfort and electronics. The first electric car actually dates back to 1832 when Scottish Inventor Robert Anderson invented a crude Electric Carriage. However, it is only in recent times has a commercially viable Electric Car made it to the market.

 

 

Advantages of Electric Car over Internal Combustion (IC) Engines

  • Zero emissions (other than the generation of electricity used for charging batteries)
  • Very few moving parts (compared to an IC Engine)
  • Fewer systems leading to larger availability of space (e.g. The entire engine compartment area that is needed for an IC engine can be used as storage space)
  • 2-3 times higher efficiency compared to an IC Engine
  • Low Center of Gravity located roughly mid-way along the length of the car providing very stable handling characteristics.

Key Challenges / Disadvantages of Electric Cars over IC Engines

  • Driving range with a full charge is typically shorter than traditional IC engine powered cars.
  • Time to re-charge the battery pack is much longer compared to filling petrol/ diesel in a traditional car.
  • Except perhaps the US, Europe and a few countries in the developed world, the infrastructure available for charging electric cars is very minimal.

One of the biggest contributors in recent times towards commercialization of the Electric Car is Tesla, which is an auto-manufacturer based out of California (Yes! California and not Detroit). Tesla was originally founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpening in 2003. Eberhard was a smart engineer who wanted to reduce Americaโ€™s dependence on oil. He built a technical model of an electric car using a spreadsheet.  Tarpening focused on creating a financial model that would be required for Tesla. Prior to Tesla the previously founded car company in the US was Chrysler in 1925. The company founded by Eberherd and Tarpening was named Tesla as homage to inventor and electric motor pioneer Nikola Tesla. The company was set up with the objective of ending Americaโ€™s dependence on oil. Elon Musk shared the vision of Eberhard and Tarpening in reducing Americaโ€™s dependence on oil and agreed to contribute about $6.5 Million towards building of the first prototype (or mule) of the electric car that would be named the Roadster. This was the time when Musk became the CEO of Tesla.

Elon Musk was born in South Africa and then moved to Canada and later to the US. He was an avid reader, who could understand and digest huge volumes of information. As a youngster, he had read and remembered all facts in Encyclopedia Britannica.  He got his dual degree from University of Pennsylvania (Economics and Physics). From his college days, Musk had a fascination for designing Electric Vehicles without compromising performance seen in traditional IC powered vehicles.

With Engineers like Straubel (who worked on using Lithium Ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles), Gene Berdichevsky (who was a member of the Stanford Solar Powered Car team) and David Lyon (a clever Mechanical Engineer), Elon Musk assembled an enterprising team that built the first prototype of the Roadster. This team figured how to get the Motors, Batteries, Power Electronics, Transmission and Electronic controls all to work together. The team also worked on various design aspects including, ensuring sufficient cooling of the battery pack, safety of the battery pack, crash protection of the vehicle to name a few. The Roadster could accelerate from 0 to 60mph in about 4 seconds and it had numerous revolutionary features (e.g. door handles that automatically popped out when the driver approached the vehicle, a 17- inch Infotainment system for controls and navigation)

To keep costs under control, Tesla decided to have different parts of the vehicle manufactured in different locations around the globe and assembled. (e.g. Batteries were manufactured in Thailand, Body Panels in France). Between 2008 and 2012, Tesla sold about 2500 Roadsters.

May key global Automotive companies (BMW, Honda, GM, Daimler to name a few)  have taken note of  Teslaโ€™s success and have started designing Electric Cars.  In India, we have started seeing a few Electric Vehicles on the road, with Mahindra and Mahindra being a key player in the 4 Wheeler segment (e.g e2O, E-Verito). Companies like Ather Energy are producing Electric Scooters (Model 350 and 450). In addition companies like Bajaj and TVS are investing in bringing Electric Scooters to market.

The share of electric vehicles in the world market is expected to grow steadily over the next 10-15 years. This will help the world move away from dependence on oil and in reduction of greenhouse gases.

References:

  1. Elon Musk, โ€œHow the Billionaire CEO of SPACEX and TESLA is shaping our Futureโ€, By Ashlee Vance

 

ByJayanthi

Do the Zodiac signs define you?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Astrology, horoscopes all play multiple roles in the Indian scene. Like it or not, we mostly abide by them. But the Zodiac signs are something that are prevalent all over the world. I have observed, listened and read about the various Zodiac signs from my younger days and safe to say most of us must have done it at some time or other too.

The 12 Zodiac signs – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces are supposed to define each of us in some way. There are water signs, earth signs and fire signs and air signs. They are also supposed to  define compatibility between spouses and other relationships too!

Aries:

Aries is the first of the Zodiac signs and Arians are those who are born between March 21st – April 19th. They are characterized as fearless, energetic, fun and free spirited and wanting to be independent. They are represented by the ‘Ram’.

Taurus:

Taurus is shown by  the “bull” and those born under this Zodiac, have their birthdays between 20th April and 20th May. They are known to be stubborn, stable and persistent.

Gemini:

Geminis or the ‘Twins’ love people of all kinds. They can talk non-stop with almost anybody. They are characterized as sociable, communicative and ready for fun. Their birthdays fall between 21st May – 21st June.

Cancer:

Cancer or the ‘crab’ have their birthdays between June 22nd and July 22nd. They are characterized as being moody, compassionate and devoted. 

Leo:

Leos are represented by the ‘Lion’ and are supposedly  strong willed, assertive, egoistical and love to be in the center of attention. Leos have their birthdays between July 23rd – August 22nd.

Virgo:

Virgo the Virgin are those whose birthdays fall between August 23rd  and September 22nd. The personality of Virgo is supposed to be a mix of intelligence, giving attention to detail and common sense.

Libra:

Librans are those who are born between September 23rd – October 23rd. The symbol for a Libra is the scale and Librans are supposed to be charming, loving, indecisive and lazy. 

Scorpio:

Scorpios have their birthdays between October 24 and November 21st. Their symbol is the Scorpion and they are supposedly strong willed, passionate, charismatic and secretive. 

Sagittarius:

A Sagittarius is supposedly curious, vibrant and exciting and their birthdays fall between November 22nd and December 21st. The Sagittarian symbol is that of the archer.

Capricorn:

Capricorn is the goat and most goats are loyal, rigid and very hard working. Their birthdays fall between December 22nd  and January 19th. 

Aquarius:

Aquarians have their birthdays between January 20th and February 18th and are supposedly humanitarian and philanthropic . Their symbol is the water bearer.

Pisces:

The last of the Zodiac sign is the Pisces or the fish. Pisceans are those whose birthdays fall between February 19th and March 20th. Pisceans are characterized by vivid imagination, being selfless and at times being carried away by a string of emotions.

While the above list is not exhaustive and having put just a small piece of information about each Zodiac, do you think it characterizes you? As I was researching this article, I felt some of the traits for some of the signs were getting repetitive. I have also observed that though two people may have their birthdays close together, and belong to the same Zodiac sign – they hardly exhibit any similarities! Which leads me to the conclusion that you may belong to a particular Zodiac – but your life experiences, family situations, financial situations shape who you are and how you change with life…

As I ponder whether my Zodiac sign is right for me… let me run now –  I think I have to find the next person to talk too… ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

ByJayanthi

What is ‘Steemit’?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Do blogging/writing and blockchain have anything in common? Yes – with ”Steemit’. What is ‘Steemit’? It is a blockchain based blogging platform. Imagine writing a blogpost and it being stored on a Blockchain namely the ‘Steem’ blockchain… so, next what is a ‘Blockchain’? To refresh, Blockchain‘ is a distributed ledger of information with no central authority(decentralized) The most popular application of Blockchain is of course, the ‘Bitcoin’. 

We have all heard about ‘Blockchain’ being used for the mortgage industry, car auction industry – but for blogging and writing content? yes, it is true – bloggers can write their content which will be  posted on the ‘Steem’ blockchain  and you ‘may’ even get paid for it. The ‘Steem’ blockchain is used for other decentralized applications as well like DTube (decentralized video platform), eSteem (Steem based mobile app)

‘Steemit’:

‘Steemit’ is a ‘Dapp’ or ‘Decentralized application’ which was started in 2016.One can upvote, downvote,comment on other’s posts (similar to other communities but with a difference , you get paid for it and it is on a blockchain)

Depending on the number of upvotes you get, you get paid in the form of digital tokens called ‘STEEM’. Everyday, STEEM tokens are mined on the ‘Steem’ blockchain and this can be used as rewards to different users.

 

 

Other points about ‘Steemit’:

  1. Users can earn money by creating content and if it receives generous upvotes – one can earn enough ‘STEEM’ tokens
  2. Users will also a receive a reward in another way. If they upvote another post and that post becomes popular later, they get rewarded with STEEM tokens too
  3. Unlike regular blogging sites, if an user loses his/her password/owner key, it cannot be reset! Hence, it is recommended for users to store an offline copy of the same. There are a number of keys too – such as owner, active, posting and memo. Since each account contains funds, it is critical for owners to safeguard their keys appropriately.
  4. Another interesting point about ‘Steemit’ is that since the content is stored on the ‘Steem’ blockchain – it cannot be deleted(though a blank page can be shown for the time the post is active) Since one important property of a blockchain is immutability(changes made to a block cannot be altered)   – all edits, comments are stored on the ‘Steem’ blockchain permanently.

Can ‘Steem’ be converted?

Yes, ‘Steem’ digital tokens can be converted to Bitcoin or to a country’s native currency or your local bank account. You can also convert it into other cryptocurrencies.

We saw the concept of ‘writing and blockchain’ merging in this post by means of the ‘Steemit’ blockchain…join me as I uncover most interesting topics…

Disclaimer: This article is to be used for informational purposes only. With cryptocurrencies being banned in many countries including India – it is up to the user to research and make decisions on the same.

ByJayanthi

2 years on a self-hosted blog…how is it?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Yes, my self hosted blog turns 2!! ๐Ÿ™‚ How has the journey been? (And, if you are wondering what is meant by “self-hosted”, just scroll down…)

Have there been only ups or only downs? Read more to know what I learnt or not…. ๐Ÿ™‚ It has been exciting and interesting journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world! It is almost like starting your business but at maybe 1% of the effort or size.

Graduating from writing technical blogs and creating e-learning videos for different organizations to doing it for my own website has been fun! During my technical writing stint for different organizations,  I wrote blogs or created the e-learning videos and each organization took care of the part that I was least interested in(digital marketing – ‘ugh!’)

Creating my self-hosted blog:

What is meant by “self-hosted” blog? In simple terms, I have a blog with a domain name without being tagged by the “wordpress.com” or “blogspot.com”(so, now it is “blogtech.online”) and I have to pay for it and can monetize it as well. Even though, I already had another free blog, ‘jayanthiweb.wordpress.com’, my self-hosted ‘blogtech.online‘ was my own space in the Internet. 

Before, the blog went “live” I had a million questions. How would it work? What should I do first? What should I do next? Who was the best hosting provider? There were another gazillion questions in my head….and if you know me, you know I could ask a lot of questions to get my project started! ๐Ÿ™‚ Special thanks to two people who helped me find all the answers and made my blog go “live”! ๐Ÿ™‚

After all my questions were answered, I became the proud owner of a blog with a nice name that I thought reflected my blog’s writings at that time. I knew I would write about ‘Information security’.  But I knew Information security alone could not sustain my blog – which is why I made it a ‘Technical blog sprinkled with personal thoughts” ๐Ÿ™‚ I also had other interests like programming in Java,C and I knew my interests would meander even more with concepts like ‘Blockchain’ rocking the technical space…so the name ‘blogtech.online‘ stuck and it is 2 years since the day! ๐Ÿ™‚

I knew that all blogs need varied content from different styles of writing. I did get a few writers to write for me and once in a while,my husband and my son always stepped in to fit the writing shoes! ๐Ÿ™‚

Me and ‘digital marketing’ – a rough journey! ๐Ÿ™‚

After starting my self-hosted blog, I realized I needed to do everything now. Free blogs are relatively easy – we just write and publish it to the community and you have tons of traffic. But my self-hosted blog was different… I was swimming on my own now.

I have had to head and do a “not-a-so deep dive” into digital marketing. I have learnt a bit of ‘digital marketing’ from my technical blog’s perspective. What was “theme”? What were the “plugins”? What was “organic traffic” and “bounce rate”? And analyzing Google Analytics was fun too!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I learnt a little bit of the “digital marketing ocean” all by experience…they say “experience is the best teacher” – it is the “very” best teacher, I would say!

I cannot say I am a digital marketing nerd or anything remotely close to that, but it is good to learn it if you are anywhere in the Internet and want to be seen and heard! ๐Ÿ™‚

Blogging communities:

For a self-hosted blog to survive, it is definitely necessary to be part of blogging communities. Thanks be to blogging communities like Indiblogger, Blogchatter and BlogAdda, I have made great online friends whom I have learnt a lot from. Thanks also to Twitter and all my Twitter friends without whom my blog would not rise steadily today! 

sample post

 

So, what is the final report card?

I cannot say I have hit off the charts in Google search results, but my Alexa rank has finally dropped below the million mark! That itself, seems quite an achievement.. Interestingly, my Blockchain posts garnered more interest and attention than I thought! ๐Ÿ™‚ (which is always good)

In the 2 years, I have blogged about Steganography, access control, physical security, the CIA triad, top-down approach to security, NIST publications, ransomware, single sign-on, deep web, dark web, zero-day vulnerability and more on the technical side… 

To conclude, here are some of my best technical posts:

  1. Physical security
  2. Conflict resolution at work place(By: Mani Prithiviraj)
  3. Which is more secure SSL, TLS or HTTPS?
  4. What is “Dark Web?”
  5. What is ‘Ransomware?’

My personal posts bordered a lot on my India-US-India journey and I published an e-book on that too! In addition, parenting is a funny affair when we have grown kids and all those jokes go right into the blog! ๐Ÿ™‚ Here are my best posts in that category:

  1.  Myths about the US!
  2.  What is your social media personality?
  3. Are you a ‘helicopter’ parent?
  4. Why do we Tamilians not have a last name?
  5. Toughest job in the world
  6. How did I become a writer?

When I began writing 6 1/2 years ago, I did not know I would have so much to say! ๐Ÿ™‚ But I did and I still do… Thanks for reading and continuing to support my blog! 

Keep reading, keep commenting and warm wishes for an awesome 2019!